Los Angeles Business Journal

Tech Company Analyzes State of the Union Speech

By Natalie Jarvey Wednesday, February 13, 2013

While millions of Americans watched as President Obama discussed budget negotiations and other issues during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, a technology company in El Segundo was hard at work analyzing reaction to the different sections of the speech.

Data analysis company InferLink Corp. sifted through thousands of tweets during the State of the Union to determine the national reaction to the speech. The company posted its findings to the website of the Social Reaction Group, an interdisciplinary group for data analysis that InferLink established.

InferLink has posted copies of the President’s speech that are color coded based on political party and gender reactions. By searching relevant keywords during the speech, InferLink’s technology was also able to determine which parts of the speech got the most reaction. InferLink highlights those sentences through bigger, bolder text.

When someone clicks on a particular section of the speech, InferLink shows relevant Tweets and information about the people who tweeted their reactions.

For example, Obama’s comment about high-quality preschool received a high number of tweets. And according to InferLink, 66 percent of them came from women.

InferLink has surmised that Obama’s line about working “to strengthen families by removing the financial deterrents to marriage for low-income couples, and doing more to encourage fatherhood” was the most tweeted about of the night.

InferLink was started in 2010 out of Fetch Technologies, an El Segundo data aggregator. Fetch was later acquired and InferLink, which had developed algorithms for making sense of Internet and social media data, became its own company.

The company has yet to implement a business plan but could license its technology to help businesses learn more about the response to brand marketing campaigns. For example, Twitter analysis during the Super Bowl could give information to GoDaddy about whether people respond favorably to its overtly sexual ads.

The company could also work with foreign countries where polling data isn’t as strong to help governments learn more about public opinion.

“In Egypt or Iran, the infrastructure isn’t there for polling,” said Daniel Davidow, director of business development at InferLink. “As our research evolves, we’re hoping to look at foreign communities like this as well.”

Davidow added that the Twitter analysis of the State of the Union helped InferLink test and demonstrate its data analysis tools. The company plans to continue to expand its analysis to other demographics.